Review: Breath by Tim Winton

The light at the end of the Uni reading is in sight – this will be the second to last. Breath is a reasonably short book at 246 pages, in which the adult Bruce Pike recalls his youth and coming of age, particularly in relation to a cult-like group of surfing friends.

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This is a very beautifully written book. I would expect to get bored with descriptions of waves after the first few, but they are written well enough and so closely embedded in the experience of it that they all felt distinct – which is in many ways the point. Pikelet measures the rest of his life against those experiences, against the feelings he has in those tiny enclosed moments.

It is also an intensely masculine book, about a male coming-of-age, and for that reason I was surprised to enjoy it so much. I’m not saying there’s anything bad about very male books of course – just that in general they aren’t what I’m drawn to or what I tend to enjoy. But the language of the writing in Breath carries the story along very intensely, even while almost every character’s likeability could be questioned. It draws out the feelings of being on the brink of growing up and the ways different people confront that hurdle when it must be taken, and offers an involving view of teenage hero-worship, with it’s benefits and dangers.

On the whole, I would certainly recommend this book, as the writing makes the subject matter immediately more broadly accessible. As a reader with no overlapping interest or experience with the characters and circumstances of the story, I was drawn in by all of the details of the plot, and interested by Winton’s characters.Book Only

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